Elizabeth: The First Spiritual Director

Today is the feast of the Visitation, where Mary travels to meet her cousin Elizabeth after the news that she was with child is revealed.

I have many thoughts on this, the first of which is the wonder if Mary needed to get out of Dodge? It probably wasn’t easy to be a single, pregnant teen in this time in history. And so, rather than bear the shame of the neighbors (or perhaps the possibility of stoning), Mary set out to talk with someone she knew she could trust.

And there was Elizabeth waiting, big stomach and all in her own pregnancy. Ever see two pregnant women get together? It’s magical. Similar things happening to their bodies, the stress on the back and on the feet carrying all that extra weight. The wondering of what is to come. What kind of mother will I be? What will my child be like? To watch two women consider the future together is indeed something. Companions on the journey are they and they most need one another to help discern their unknown futures.

Like Mary, we all need trusted individuals to turn to regularly. Someone we can depend on for advice, perhaps even someone with a bit of companioning wisdom who might know a bit more about our situation than we do.

I imagine Elizabeth, just a bit more pregnant than Mary was that person that Mary needed. A companion that could tell her about morning sickness or strange cravings. She stayed with Elizabeth for some time the scripture tells us, I wonder if she witnessed the birth of John the Baptist, midwifing him into life?

The relationship between “trusted source” people and those who seek them is often symbiotic. I know as a spiritual director myself, I often feel blessed that these people trust me enough with their stories and wonder sometimes what they see in me that enables them to offer all of themselves without editing. They share much with me and I am blessed for that.

And we laugh. A lot. We find God’s ways of communicating with us hysterical at times and sometimes we are so frustrated with our lives that we have to laugh sarcastically as if we can’t believe that these things happen to us.

Elizabeth seems to understand that. Picture her laughing as she does in the picture above as she says:

And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

I often hear words like this come out of my own mouth:

“Thank you for all you have shared with me.”
“I am humbled by your openness with me.”
“Be able to believe in all that God is doing in you.”
“Do not be afraid.”
“Clearly you are cooperating with where you believe that God is calling you.”

It’s given me pause to reflect today on the many people who “visit” with me. I hope I can be as good of a listener for them as Elizabeth was for Mary.

After all, she helped Mary find God’s presence within herself.

And that’s exactly what we spiritual directors try to do for those who visit with us as well.

For those who visit me…thank you. And know today that the spirit of the living God resides quite deeply in all that is within you.

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